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Massachusetts Senate Approves Bill Allowing Limits on Shelter Stays

Credits: NBC Boston

The Massachusetts State Senate made a good decision on Thursday evening, voting 32-8 to limit the length of time families can stay in the state’s crowded emergency shelter system. Additionally, the administration was granted authority to access over $800 million from state savings to address the crisis until mid-2025.

A group of Republican senators, including Peter Durant, Ryan Fattman, Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, and Patrick O’Connor, opposed the bill along with some Democratic senators, including Nick Collins, John Cronin, Walter Timilty, and John Velis. Tarr expressed concerns about the bill’s impact on the state’s finances, particularly amid declining revenues and economic uncertainty.

Following recent reports of a rape incident at a shelter site in Rockland, senators voted unanimously (39-0) to pass an amendment proposed by Sen. Michael Moore. This amendment calls for a special commission to review safety practices at emergency shelters, including hotels and motels used for overflow shelter sites.

Massachusetts Senate (Credits: The Boston Globe)

Senate President Karen E. Spilka emphasized the importance of addressing the fiscal reality while treating migrants with dignity. She highlighted the bill’s focus on housing families and supporting migrants in integrating into the workforce.

Senate Ways & Means Committee Chairperson Michael J. Rodriques warned about the imminent funding shortfall in the shelter system, stressing the urgency of finding a solution. He emphasized the potential consequences of inaction, including leaving thousands of families without shelter.

Massachusetts Shelter (Credits: WCVB-TV)

The Senate’s decision sets the stage for potential disagreements with the state House, which has its proposals to address the escalating costs of the emergency shelter system.

Rodriques acknowledged the need for swift action, as the shelter system is expected to run out of funds in early April, increasing pressure on both chambers to reach a compromise.

He expressed readiness to work with House Ways & Means Committee Chairperson Aaron Michlewitz to find common ground in conference committee discussions.

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